6 Safety Tips for Your 4th of July Celebration

Fourth of July in New Orleans

July 4 is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to start planning your Independence Day celebration. Whether you’re firing up the barbecue, indulging in a few drinks, or putting on a fireworks show, keeping your guests happy and healthy should be a top priority of any host. That’s why our personal injury lawyers put together the following guide to hosting a safe and satisfying Fourth of July in New Orleans.

Don’t Let an Injury Ruin Your Fourth of July

Most people assume that illegal fireworks are the only real dangers to look out for on the Fourth of July. But the little-known truth is that July 4 can pose safety hazards for a variety of other reasons as well. From higher incidences of car accidents and swimming injuries to grilling mishaps and heatstroke, there are all sorts of ways an injury can spoil your Independence Day fun. Do your part to reduce the risk of accidents and illness this year by following these Fourth of July safety tips.

#1: Drive With Extra Caution

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Fourth of July is typically the U.S. holiday with the most traffic accident deaths each year. Between 2016 and 2020, at least 668 people lost their lives due to car accidents on July 4.

But what makes the Fourth of July in New Orleans such a dangerous day for motorists? Statistics suggest that buzzed and drunk driving play a major role.

Aside from the fact that many drivers may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving on the Fourth of July also poses a risk simply because the roads are busier than usual. Many people are traveling, be it to a party, community fireworks display, family picnic, or even the grocery store for supplies. The increase in traffic makes getting into a New Orleans car accident that much more likely.

You can do your part to keep the roads safe by:

  • Driving only when sober and rested. 
  • Adhering to the speed limit.
  • Reporting potentially inebriated drivers to the police.
  • Offering to give family or friends a ride after a night of drinking. 

If you are planning a road trip, do some preparatory work to enhance your vehicle’s safety. Let a mechanic take a close look at your vehicle before you embark. This evaluation should include a check of your tire pressure, coolant, brakes, headlights, tail lights,  wiper fluid, and oil. Coolant is especially important for the summer. It prevents vehicles from overheating when in the midst of snarled-up traffic on blazing hot roads.

In addition, your holiday trip may prove much safer and less stressful if you travel on the days preceding or following the Fourth of July. Furthermore, driving during off-peak hours, such as the early morning, will prove safer as fewer vehicles are on the road.

#2: Handle Fireworks Safely

Auto accidents are certainly a danger to consider on and around the July Fourth holiday. However, fireworks—even small, legal ones—can also cause serious injuries. Fireworks damage more than the hands that hold them. Most fireworks shoot upwards, making the face (especially the eyes) that much more vulnerable to injury. Improperly handled fireworks can lead to burn injuries, retinal detachment, corneal abrasions, and trauma to the head or neck.

If you plan on setting off fireworks for the Fourth of July in New Orleans, follow these firework safety guidelines:

  • Do not let children near fireworks. 
  • Only a mature, responsible, sober adult should set off fireworks. 
  • Onlookers should observe the light display from a minimum of 50 feet away. 
  • If kids are insistent on participating in the fireworks display, consider letting them hold a sparkler for a short period of time under close adult supervision.

If anyone at your party suffers an eye injury, call 911 right away. Do not apply pressure, rub, or rinse the injured eye as it could worsen the injury. 

#3: Keep an Eye on the Pool

Fourth of July in New Orleans

It can be easy to fall into the trap of assuming your swimming pool is a harmless place where only fun can occur. In reality, it only takes a few seconds to turn a happy Fourth of July pool party into a tragic accident.

Even a shallow pool for children or animals can lead to injury or death. A toddler can drown in merely a couple inches of water. If you have any type of pool, hot tub, or other source of water in your backyard, it is your responsibility to make it as safe as possible. That also means keeping it secure and inaccessible when not in use, as it may be considered an attractive nuisance.

Larger swimming pools and aquatic centers can also lead to all sorts of injuries. Aside from drowning, common swimming pool or water park injuries include abrasions, fractures, and injuries to the spine and neck. You can decrease the risk for pool accidents by taking these proactive steps:

  • Keep a watchful eye on your pool. If you have to leave the backyard for any reason, have another adult who is capable of swimming observe the pool activity. 
  • Let everyone know about the pool’s safety rules (such as no running by the pool, no swimming while inebriated, and so on). 
  • If there are any children or inexperienced swimmers, provide them with life jackets. 
  • If your pool has a shallow end or any portion less than six feet deep, let swimmers know well ahead of time so they do not attempt to dive into these parts of the pool. 
  • Discourage heavy drinking at your party.
  • Learn the signs of drowning and take a CPR certification course. 

#4: Be Careful Around Your Grill

If you plan on barbecuing this Fourth of July, you are not alone. Many Fourth of July parties feature hamburgers, hot dogs, and other delights from the grill. But grilling injuries are more common than you may think. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that nearly 20,000 people visit emergency rooms each year for grill-related injuries. In addition, a whopping 18% of grill fires occur in July, more than any other month during the year. You can reduce the risk of grill fires and injuries by following these Fourth of July safety tips:

  • Do not leave your grill unattended after lighting it or turning it on. 
  • The barbecue should be stationed far away from your home and other objects to reduce the chances of a fire.
  • Do not put your barbecue in your home or garage, as the smoke is dangerous and can spread throughout the house and sicken those inside. 
  • Move all Fourth of July decorations far away from the barbecue so they do not catch fire. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher by the barbecue just in case the flames rise out of the unit.
  • Keep children and animals away from grills.

#5: Serve Alcohol Responsibly

Fourth of July safety

Alcoholic beverages are a staple of many Fourth of July celebrations. Unfortunately, mixing alcohol with most of the above activities—driving, lighting fireworks, swimming, or grilling—can be a recipe for disaster. If you’re hosting a get-together at your home, you need to be aware of how much alcohol you’re serving (and to whom it’s being served). The good news is that, under Louisiana’s dram shop laws, you’re unlikely to be held legally responsible for serving alcohol to an inebriated person who later goes on to injure another person.

That being said, serving your guests as much alcohol as they can drink can lead to far more trouble than it’s worth. Try following these guidelines to prevent alcohol-related accidents and injuries during the festivities:

  • Stop serving alcohol after a certain time. This gives everyone a chance to sober up before they drive home.
  • Provide plenty of water and food to guests. 
  • If a guest happens to overindulge, offer them your couch for the evening or call them a rideshare service to get home safely.
  • Keep an eye on children and adults in the pool. Inebriation can lead to drowning.
  • Have a designated sober adult light fireworks. Many firework injuries occur when an intoxicated person is handling fireworks.

A note on premises liability: Louisiana’s premises liability law mandates that property owners provide a safe area or warn others about potentially unsafe conditions. If anyone is injured on your property as a result of Fourth of July festivities and it can be proven you failed to provide a relatively safe environment, you could be sued. Anything from a slip and fall to a dog bite may qualify as grounds for a premises liability lawsuit.

#6: Take Steps to Prevent Food Poisoning

Foodborne illnesses are often the result of bacteria-laden food that is either undercooked or spoiled. An entire guest list can become sick from just one spoiled dish. If you’re cooking meat, be sure to use a meat thermometer to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked. 

You can prevent food poisoning by limiting food exposure to fresh air to an hour or less. Make sure everyone is out of the pool and ready to eat when serving dinner, or store leftovers in the refrigerator if guests prefer to eat at different times. 

And speaking of illness, be sure to follow all local restrictions and guidelines as they pertain to COVID-19. Those who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home to prevent spreading the disease, regardless of their vaccination status.

Injured on the Fourth of July in New Orleans?

Don’t assume you’re on your own if you suffer an injury this Fourth of July. Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. Should you or a loved one suffer an injury caused by another person’s negligence, you could be entitled to significant compensation. Our personal injury attorneys will help you gather evidence, pinpoint the optimal legal strategy for your unique case, and fiercely advocate on your behalf.

Give Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys a call day or night to schedule a free consultation. If you prefer to contact us online, click our LiveChat feature and one of our friendly representatives will be with you shortly. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by contacting our legal team. We do not charge fees unless we win your case, and consultations are always free.

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The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.